DAN BICKLEY

Chris Paul’s impact in Suns’ turnaround cannot be overlooked

Jun 7, 2023, 5:21 PM

Chris Paul...

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns gestures after making a three-point basket against the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Footprint Center on April 04, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

When time catches up to an undersized point guard, so does the rest of the NBA.

It took a while to catch the Point God.

The end may have arrived for Chris Paul on Wednesday, at least when it comes to his playing career in Phoenix. NBA insider Chris Haynes reported that Paul was being waived by the Suns. Others quickly rebuked the report, just like they rebuked Haynes after his TNT sideline blurb about Isiah Thomas joining the front office. There is a pattern here.

Arizona Sports’ Kellan Olson confirmed the team has not waived him.

I’m guessing the team would prefer a trade while Paul would surely prefer to pick where he’s going next: likely back home to Southern California to play with LeBron, crossing that item from his bucket list. Maybe the Lakers even trade for Kyrie Irving, sucking all the oxygen from the ESPN studios.

But the end in Phoenix is a definite possibility now, and if this is curtains for another Hall of Fame point guard in our midst, Paul will finish his illustrious Valley career in the same manner as Charles Barkley: one tantalizing title run followed by two inglorious playoff exits.

Paul recently told a heart-wrenching story regarding his daughter, and how she is old enough to be hearing schoolyard taunts about her daddy and his zero championship rings. That’s cold. But he is not retiring anytime soon. His overall basketball legacy is not yet complete.

His legacy in Phoenix is different. It’s undisputed.

Yes, he was hurt every year in the playoffs. He failed to deliver a championship. When it comes to the best point guard in franchise history, Paul will forever rank behind Steve Nash and his consecutive MVP awards.

Yet the Suns would not have turned a competitive corner without Paul’s full commitment and cutthroat approach. If Monty Williams was the agent for change, Paul personally put the program in overdrive, pushing and prodding the Suns to the doorstep of an NBA championship.

Paul is a non-stop talker and relentless agitator. He doesn’t adapt to a culture. You adapt to him. He is the culture. His style seems to have a short shelf-life with franchises, coaches and teammates. He’s a hard-core dude, and I will forever love him for that.

Paul holds another distinction: no NBA player has ever lost his superpowers so mysteriously, almost overnight, immediately after celebrating a birthday. On the day he turned 37 years old, Paul committed a shocking seven turnovers in the first half of a road loss to Dallas. It’s been mostly downhill ever since.

There should be no trolling or taunting from haters hiding inside the fan base. This is the time to start bookmarking the memories, the ballhandling wizardry, the elbow jumpers, the screaming matches with Deandre Ayton and those magical nights when he seemed to have nine other players on a string.

If Wednesday was a harbinger of what’s around the corner, we owe it to Paul to remember the good times. And how bad it was before he got here.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta mornings from 6-10 a.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7

Dan Bickley

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